Feeling and Performing 'the Crisis': On the Affective Phenomenology and Politics of the Corona Crisis

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    How does it feel to be in a crisis? Is the idea of the crisis itself bound to our affectivity in the sense that without the occurrence of specific emotions or a change in our affective lives at large we cannot even talk about a crisis properly speaking? In this paper, I explore these questions by analyzing the exemplary case of the corona crisis. In order to do so, I first explore the affective phenomenology of crises in general and the corona crisis in particular, thereby paying attention to both individual (personal) and collective (socio-political) crises and crisis experiences. Then, I turn to the limits of the analogy between individual and collective crises. I reflect on how socio-political crises are not simply there but performed and procedurally constructed and show how, in the context of the corona pandemic, fears and hopes, feelings of solidarity and antagonistic emotions mirror political interests and values. While the phenomenological reflections in the first part help us to account for the fact that crises are not just objective facts but also subjective forms of experience, the political reflections in the second part help us to do justice to the inherently political nature of the language and experiences of (collective) crises. I conclude by pointing out a twofold relationship between (socio-political) crisis and critique. Thanks to their characteristic affective phenomenology, crises are tools of criticism; but due to their inherently political character, they also themselves have to be subjected to critique.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1281–1299
    Number of pages19
    JournalPhenomenology and the cognitive sciences
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2023


    • Affective Politics
    • COVID-19 Pandemic
    • Crisis
    • Emotions
    • Moods


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